The Bactrian Camels Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium presents its 2.01 Gb draft genome sequence of the Bactrian camel genome in Nature Communications this week. The group sequenced both an 8-year-old wild male Bactrian camel from Altai province, Mongolia, and a 6-year-old male Bactrian camel from Inner Mongolia, China. From this, the researchers were able to identify rapidly evolving genes involved in metabolism that may enable the camels to endure life in the desert.
"We found that many genes related to metabolism are under accelerated evolution in the camel, compared with other even-toed ungulates such as cattle," Yixue Li, from the Shanghai Center for Bioinformation Technology and a co-author of the paper, tells Nature News.
Nature News says that those metabolism genes that allow the camels to have high blood glucose levels are also implicated in type 2 diabetes in humans. "A closer study of how camels respond to insulin may help to unravel how insulin regulation and diabetes work in humans," it adds.